Get Started


Mindfulness Meditation: A Journey and a Coming Home

I recently returned from a day of mindfulness at the Shambhala Meditation Center in Minneapolis. The day consisted of a body scan, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and yoga. We also enjoyed a mindful eating experience and learned some concepts from MBSR. This was my first formal introduction to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which has been running strong for thirty-plus years in Worcester, MA.

My biggest takeaway from the retreat, and the bit I’ve been using daily in my practice, includes the following seven attitudinal factors – the major pillars of mindfulness practice. How might you incorporate them into your daily journey? Take a moment to consider the seven attitudes, whether you apply them to a relationship, your career, parenthood, or a decision you are contemplating:

The 7 Major Pillars of Mindfulness Practice and how to apply them in your life

1. Non-judging

·      Paying close to your moment-to-moment experience while, as best you can, not getting caught up in your ideas and opinions, likes and dislikes.

·      When you find the mind judging, you don’t have to stop it from doing that, and it would be unwise to try. All that is required is to be aware of it happening. No need to judge the judging and make matters even more complicated for yourself.

2. Patience

·      Understanding and accepting the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.

·      Why rush through some moments to get to other, “better” ones? After all, each one is your life in that moment.

3. Beginner’s Mind

·      We tend to take the ordinary for granted and fail to grasp the extraordinariness of the ordinary.

·      To see the richness of the present moment, we need to cultivate what has been called “beginner’s mind,” a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time. My favorite example of this is to consider what it is like to enjoy a sunrise over Lake Superior, as if for the first time. Beautiful.

4. Trust

·      Developing and honoring a basic trust in yourself and your feelings.

·      It is far better to trust in your intuition and your own authority, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way, than always to look outside yourself for guidance.

·      This attitude will be particularly useful in yoga. When practicing yoga, you will have to honor your feelings when your body tells you to stop or to back off in a particular pose. If you don’t listen, you might injure yourself.

5. Non-striving

·      Ultimately meditation is a non-doing activity. It has no goal other than for you to be yourself. The irony is that you already are.

·      We are simply allowing anything and everything that we experience from moment to moment to be here, because it already is.

·      The best way to achieve your goals is to back off from striving for results and instead to start focusing carefully on seeing and accepting things are they are, moment by moment. With patience and regular practice, movement toward your goals will take place by itself.

6. Acceptance

·      Seeing things as they actually are in the present. If you have a headache, accept that you have a headache.

·      Acceptance does not mean that you have to like everything or that you have to take a passive attitude toward everything and abandon your principles and values.

·      We try not to impose our ideas about what we “should” be feeling or thinking or seeing in our experience. Instead, we just remind ourselves to be receptive and open to whatever we are feeling, thinking, or seeing, and to accept it because it is here right now.

7. Letting Go

·      We often try to hold on to pleasant thoughts, feelings, and situations; and we try to avoid unpleasant, painful, or frightening ones. This clinging, or holding on creates suffering. Letting go (non-attachment) is a way of letting thing be, of accepting things as they are.

·      Letting go is not such a foreign experience. We do it every night when we go to sleep. You cultivate an experience that allows your mind and body to let go. What happens when you try (strive) to fall asleep? It doesn’t work so well, does it? 

If you are interested in learning more about MBSR, pick up Kabat-Zinn’s second printing of Full Catastrophe Living. Additional good resources include The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle, Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, and for all the mindfulness skeptics out there, The Mindful Geek by Michael Taft.


Dina Clabaugh



{Seven attitudinal factors adapted from Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2013.}